Pre-Qin Period


Natural cowries were used as a form of money in the late Neolithic Period and were in continuous circulation in the Shang and Western Zhou dynasties when unwrought weight metal mainly in the form of bronze began to appear.

The Chinese cast bronze coins in the form of a spade with a hollow handle emerged in the Spring and Autumn Period. The Zhou royal family cast and used flat or sloping-shouldered, arc-footed and hollow-handled spade coins until the Warring States Period, and began to cast square-footed spade coins from the mid Spring and Autumn Period.

The cast coins popular in the Spring and Autumn and the Warring States periods were shrugged-shouldered, pointed-footed and hollow-handled spade coins of the Jin State; hollow-handled spade coins, square-footed spades and round coins of the Han State; square-footed spade coins, round coins and straight sword coins of the Wei State; the pointed-footed, square-footed and round-footed spade coins, straight sword coins, round coins and imitations of the Yan state sword coins of the Zhao State; needle-headed, point-headed and Yan sword coins, square-footed spade and round-with-a-central-square-hole coins of the Yan State and large and heavy sword-shaped coins of the Qi State. The Chu State used both gold and cast bronze coins. Gold called "Jin Ban" was measured by weight. The cast bronze coins included "Yibi" cowries and "Jin" bronze spade. In the Qin State, "Banliang" coins were mainly used.